Sure, New York cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran's performance of George Gershwin tunes was terrific. But the highlight of this year's Center Stage Presents came when Haran led the audience of 600 at the Baltimore theater in a serenade to outgoing managing director Peter Culman. "Once In Love With Amy" may have seemed a little odd, except for the story behind it, which Haran told the audience.
In 1948, 10 year-old Culman was taken to see his first Broadway show, "Where's Charlie?" When Ray Bolger, the show's star, sang "Amy," Culman stood up in the audience and sang with him. This time around, Culman was playfully conducting the Center Stage sing-along. Afterward, he received a standing ovation for his 34 years at the helm of the regional theater.
Among those in the "chorus": Carole Goldberg and Ellen Remsen Webb, event co-chairs; Terry Morgenthaler and Jed Dietz, committee members; James T. Brady, Center Stage board president; Lynn Deering, board vice president; Ed Bernard, Cheryl G. Hudgins Williams, Lori Gladstone, Joan E. Marshall and Sue Hess, board trustees; Tom Pechar, Center Stage incoming managing director; Lee Hendler, president of Chizuk Amuno Congregation; Malcolm Wilson, executive vice president with Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Co.; and Mary Cogar, Towson psychologist.
The evening, which included a gourmet dinner after the show, brought in a record $190,000 for Center Stage.